A new majority Indigenous owned company is aiming to provide better internet to under-serviced areas.

At an event in Saskatoon on Tuesday, the resource development arm of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council announced the launch of new internet service provider Beaver River Broadband (BRB).

Meadow Lake Tribal Council Resource Development Inc will hold a 51% ownership stake of BRB in the partnership with internet company Wood River Controls based out of the community of La Fleche.

“This new enterprise represents a once in a generation opportunity for Indigenous ownership and economic participation by the nine MLTC First Nations in the internet service provider industry,” said MLTC Tribal Chief Richard Ben. “Beaver River Broadband aspires to be a leader in this sector, and will bring an essential service to Indigenous and remote communities that supports Indigenous self-determination — enabling our communities to improve access to education, employment, and essential programs and services for their members.”

Beaver River Broadband has partnered with Sasktel through the Crown Corporations Rural Broadband Partnership Program to allow BRR to use some of Sasktel’s network infrastructure.

“Today’s announcemebt is an example of what can be achieved when Sasktel, Saskatchewan’s independent broadband providers, and Indigenous leaders work together in full partnership,” said Don Morgan, the Saskatchewan Government’s Minister Responsible for Sasktel. “As a solid internet connection becomes more essential to the economy of everyday life, partnerships such as these will help narrow the digital divide on our province while giving First Nation Communities control over their digital future.”

Beaver River Broadband will be launching in five communities this fall beginning with work currently underway in Cowessess First Nation. The service will then launch at Ministikwan Lake Cree Nation, Eagle’s Lake, Birch Narrows Dene Nation, and Moudy Lake.

The newly launched internet service provider plans to launch in more communities in the future.

(PHOTO: MLTC Trobal Chief Richard Ben and CEO of Wood River Controls John Degraauw sign a partnership to form Beaver River Broadband. Photo by Joel Willick.)